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Monday, September 26, 2016
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Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:35 PM
KOKOMO – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
    
When my ancestors, Scots Irish immigrants from Ulster, immigrated to America in the early part of the 18th Century, they were not greeted by Lady Liberty and her famous poem. The statue had not been erected nor the words of the poem written. However, they were welcomed by a vast land whose siren call around the world could be heard by all, “Come to America and be free!”
    
For centuries, the downtrodden and oppressed from around the world have made their way to our shores asking only one thing, an opportunity to work and live in freedom. The flow of immigrants to our country has enriched our character and forged a nation that has been stronger, more creative and more successful than the other, generally homogenous, countries of the world. What country would not be made stronger by a man who says, “I am going to take everything that I have and move my family to the United States where there is opportunity and freedom?”
    
Of course, for over 200 years, Americans have resisted welcoming new immigrants to their country. They’ve feared that the new arrivals would threaten the prosperity that they have come to know. Our nation, as great as it is, has resisted immigration by Irish Catholics, Polish, Germans, Italians, Jews and Chinese, to name just a few. We would have resisted immigration of black Africans if they had not been forced to come here for the economic benefit of the South. I don’t know if it is merely fear of change, fear of the unknown or a natural tendency to fear anyone who doesn’t look like us that has motivated Americans over history to fight immigration. America has become a club that after trying desperately to get in, we try desperately to keep everyone else out.
  • KOKOMO – When you take on the job of a political party chairman, you enter your tenure with visions of political lollipops dancing in your head. You imagine all of the nifty things you’ll accomplish in the name of the cause. You salivate over creating targeted marketing programs, systematic fundraising processes and candidate development.  Then, very quickly, perhaps within two or three days, you realize that you are going to be doing things that no one told you about. Scrubbing toilets at Republican Headquarters, I realized that there might be things that I would be called upon to do that weren’t in the brochures touting the glamorous and exciting lifestyles of a Republican County chairman. Ten years into my sentence, make that service, as a GOP chair, I’ve done things that I never anticipated doing and seen events that amaze and astound. I’ve done some things they just can’t get laboratory rats to do, all in the service of my party. Last April, our Republican HQ started being bombarded with telephone calls asking when we would have Donald Trump signs for distribution. The callers were polite but quickly became agitated when told that sign distribution during primaries was largely up to the individual candidates.
  • KOKOMO – I hereby dedicate this column to former Indiana 2nd District U.S. Rep. Earl Landgrebe. Congressman Landgrebe immortalized the comment, “Don’t confuse me with the facts” during the Watergate hearings in 1974. His eloquent and timely use of this statement has been subliminally picked up and adopted by both major political parties as they go on their merry way to the bankrupting of our nation. Of course, I could have dedicated this column just as easily to one of the great philosophers of my youth, Alfred E. Neuman. His monthly mantra, “What Me Worry?” closely reflects the fiscal discipline so ably practiced by our Congress and presidents for at least the last 50 years.  Our United States government is totally devoid of a single scintilla of synergy. We elect intelligent representatives and senators, put them in the same building and crank out more toxic waste than you’d find in the Love Canal. The root cause of this legislative morass is the giant sausage-making machine that we fondly refer to as democracy. The sum of our legislative parts just doesn’t add up to a positive number.
  • KOKOMO – Howard County and the City of Kokomo are not the first areas to be visited by the destructive forces of a tornado, nor are they the victims of the worst tornado. They are the victims of three nasty twisters that touched down last Wednesday. When you are in the middle of a tornado you don’t spend a lot of time debating whether it is an F2, F3 or F4 storm that is flattening your house, destroying your business or totally disrupting your day-to-day life.  There’s quite a bit of chance and luck that goes into determining whether you emerge alive from a big tornado. When and where the twister touches down, the time of day, how long and wide the path of destruction and the day of the week are all variables that go into Mother Nature’s lottery of life. Of course, decisions and actions taken by governmental bodies and individuals also help or hinder the ultimate outcome of the tragedy of a tornado. Very accidentally, I found myself at ground zero in the direct path of the tornado at 3:20 p.m.  Sometimes innocent decisions can alter your life. Thankfully, my number didn’t come up on the big old wheel of fortune this time. It was 2:25, and I was in the family room of my home, entertaining my brother visiting from Florida. It was sunny outside but you could hear a faint rumbling of thunder from the west.
  • KOKOMO – One month ago I traveled up U.S. Highway 35 from Kokomo to northern Indiana for a company golf outing. Highway 35 leads through a political mixture of both Democratic and Republican bastions as you snake your way to LaPorte. I found this trip noteworthy for the political yard signs that were sprinkled along the way. “Pence Must Go” and “Fire Pence” signs dotted the roadway in several locations.  I had seen the same signs in yards along Capitol Avenue in Indianapolis, ever since the heated brouhaha over the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act exploded in the public mindset. Mind you, these aren’t hand-painted signs by individuals expressing their anger. These signs are professionally done and distributed as part of a longterm strategy to win the 2016 Indiana governor’s race by vilifying Mike Pence. Oops! The problem with putting all of your chips on one number of the roulette wheel is that your number better come up or you are busted. With Gov. Pence accepting the vice presidential nomination on the Trump ticket, removing him from the Indiana ballot, the obsessive focus of John Gregg and the Democratic Party on a “Pence Must Go” strategy has left them flat busted.
  • CLEVELAND – I confess that I wasn’t really looking forward to attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. It had the potential to range all the way from nauseating to dangerous, based on the hype leading up to the event. Advance news reporting by the major media outlets predicted deep divisions in the convention between Trump supporters and anti-Trump forces, deadly terrorist attacks, paralyzing traffic jams caused by civil disobedience and a list of speakers that excited no one. Once again, the big media got it wrong, totally wrong. The Republican National Convention was an outstanding success. It was full of drama, full of excitement and a good showing for Team Trump. As to the location, I don’t want to hear another person refer to Cleveland as the “Mistake on the Lake.”  Cleveland rocked, literally and figuratively. Cleveland is a great city with big city attractions and some of the friendliest people in the nation. Of course, the big worry going into the RNC was the question of public safety. We were told there would be thousands of protesters wreaking havoc on Cleveland and the convention. The reality was that Cleveland was possibly the safest city in the United States last week, as thousands of imported law enforcement officers and a shortage of serious protesters made for a great environment.
  • KOKOMO – I have a deep dark secret to confide. I am one of the most committed Anglophiles in the United States. I love everything British. I love the history. I love the monarchy. I love the tradition. I even love that funny language they call English. Despite the fact that George Bernard Shaw once said that, “Americans and the British are two peoples separated by a common language,” I find myself proud that my heritage springs from the land of King Harold, Robin Hood and Winston Churchill.  Heck, if Henry VIII hadn’t sent my ancestors from Scotland to Northern Ireland in an effort to whip those Emerald Islanders into shape, I might be living at the foot of Castle Hill, in Edinburgh, selling bangers and mash from a street cart. Unfortunately, the survival manual distributed by Henry VIII to the emigrants sent to Northern Ireland didn’t reveal the secret about how to grow potatoes in rocky soil. The desire to eat being a rather strong incentive, my ancestors sailed for the New World and the availability of Big Macs.
  • KOKOMO – Indiana Republicans can be proud that they took a giant leap forward on Saturday, when delegates to the Indiana Republican State Convention nominated Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill to be their candidate for Indiana attorney general.  In a continuation of a political evolutionary process that witnessed three incredibly talented women lead the Indiana statewide Republican ticket in 2014, delegates to the 2016 Republican state convention created an historical moment with the Hill nomination.  Curtis Hill became the first African-American Republican to be nominated  for a statewide constitutional office. First and foremost, Curtis Hill deserved the nomination. A four-term county prosecutor, Hill hit the entire State of Indiana like an April tornado.  Endorsed by 40 of his peers, Hill quickly served notice last year that he was in it to win it with hard work and a great message.
  • KOKOMO – What a difference a month makes! One month ago, Republicans in Indiana were drawing battle lines in the rarest of rarities, a primary that actually meant something. In a ham-handed deal, John Kasich and Ted Cruz worked up a “deal” in an effort to derail Donald Trump’s express train to the Republican presidential nomination. Kasich cleared the field and Cruz crowed that without the distraction of a third candidate, he would put the Donald in his place. One month ago, liberal and conservative pundits predicted that the Republican presidential race would come down to a contested convention that would destroy the Republican Party. One month ago, Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump in national polls by nearly 20 percent. One month ago, with the elite of the Indiana Democrats backing her, Hillary Clinton looked to win the Indiana primary and close out the Democratic presidential race. One month ago, John Gregg was shopping for a big old comfortable chair for his future digs in the governor’s office, while counting his big labor donations to his gubernatorial campaign.
  • KOKOMO – Okay, let’s cut out the bull and talk about what the presidential primary results were all about. The Trump, Cruz and Sanders campaigns were all about revolution. The masses are damn angry and they have made their voices heard. That’s how we do revolutions in a democracy. Rebel at the ballot box! It is unarguable that the Trump, Cruz and Sanders campaigns were about battling the status quo. Although each candidate found a somewhat different set of elements to assail, each of their campaigns was born from an anger that had been building for close to 50 years. Just like an earthquake fault line, the longer the interval between pressure relieving quakes, the greater the magnitude of the tremor. The current political situation is somewhat akin to linking the San Andreas fault to the New Madrid fault and watching the United States political scene go shake, rattle and roll. The typical Donald Trump supporter that I’ve met is terribly angry about what they perceive as the decline of American greatness. They long for a time when we were the only big kid on the block internationally. Trump supporters are tired of not finishing and winning wars. They want an end to wars fought with no clear definition of victory. They love the middle class and have been sickened by the steady outsourcing of jobs to Mexico, China, India and everywhere else.
  • KOKOMO – Forget about the analysis of the primary races for president, U.S. Senate and congressional races. That’s all fine and good, but I want to talk about an issue while it’s hot; an issue that both Republicans and Democrats can get their hands around and agree on at least one thing. Indiana desperately needs to move our primary election to the early part of the presidential election cycle. For virtually my entire life Indiana has been flown over, walked over, passed over and mostly ignored by the national political elites. We’ve been mostly a super safe state in the Republican electoral column; so safe that Republican presidential candidates rarely stop for much more than a quick cash grab at the Columbia Club. You might get a vice presidential candidate whistle stop visit, but the main attraction spends their time where it is needed. Democrat presidential candidates stop just as infrequently as the Republicans. Why waste your time tilling extremely rocky soil? It has been an amazing experience watching Indiana become the object of affection for Republican and Democrat presidential candidates for the past 10 days. It has been a joy to see all of the big boy national media outlets realize that there is, “more than corn in Indiana.”
  • KOKOMO – I returned home from a weekend out of town to find my yard resembling a hayfield. After nearly three hours riding the tractor, my final gesture was to set my “Kasich for President” sign out in the front yard. I took extra care to stick the prongs of the sign frame deep in the ground and I made sure that the sign was visible from all directions, yet not too close to the road to make it easily removable by a passerby.  Farmers have told me over the years that you can do a powerful lot of thinking while you’re out on a tractor. My time Sunday was spent listening to the Eagles anthology on my iPOD player and thinking about the delicious prospect of the first contested Republican presidential primary to roll into Indiana in years.  I’ve made no secret of my belief that it is to Indiana’s great detriment that we hold our primary so late in the election year cycle. We get passed over, flown over and overlooked by nearly everyone in the presidential quest. We vote solidly Republican in November and rarely see a presidential candidate once the general election campaign begins.  Hoosiers just don’t get the chance to tell the candidates about the perils of corn root worm, the challenges of keeping our children close to home after graduation, or the unparalleled joy of wrapping your hands around a gigantic Indiana breaded tenderloin. Finally, Indiana Republicans were to have their moment in the national spotlight. Not one, not two, but three presidential candidates would be coming to the state for an uninterrupted week of Hoosier campaigning.
  • KOKOMO – It’s looking more and more each day as if the Republican candidate for president of the United States will be decided at a contested Republican National Convention in Cleveland, this July. With each passing primary the likelihood of any of the three remaining candidates locking up the 1,237 votes necessary to win the first ballot seems more remote.  Kasich is mathematically unable to get to 1,237. Cruz would have to just about complete a clean sweep of the remaining primaries. Trump had the best chance of doing it, but a variety of forces have come together in the past two weeks to make his task an extremely challenging one. Let’s recite the rules one more time so that everyone can get on board with the process. The Republican National Committee rules have always required a majority of the delegate votes to secure the nomination. Even Abraham Lincoln needed three ballots to rise from second place to lock in his nomination.
  • KOKOMO – I am writing this less than 24 hours since Howard County Sheriff’s Department officers Sgt. Jordan Buckley and Deputy Carl Koontz were gunned down while serving drug-related arrest warrant at 12:30 a.m. on a frosty and lonely Sunday morning. Both deputies were life-lined to Indianapolis where 27-year-old Carl Koontz died following surgery. Deputy Koontz was a husband, a father, a son, a role model for children and a protector of the community. His loss has deeply touched the Howard County community and the emotions of its citizens are raw from the pain. This wanton murder of a young law enforcement officer is yet another somber statistic in the desultory malaise of drug abuse and the immensely profitable business of drug trafficking.
  • KOKOMO – In the wee small hours of Tuesday, May 29, 1453, the people of Constantinople were shocked from their sleep by a beating of drums, the blaring of trumpets and clanging of cymbals accompanied by the bloodcurdling battle cries of 80,000 Ottoman soldiers approaching the walls of the great city. The noise was no accident. The Ottomans were skilled in using psychological warfare to unnerve their opponents prior to battle. The battle this time was for no less than the final conquest of the Byzantium Empire. The terror of the sounds of the advancing Ottomans was enhanced by Sultan Mehmet II’s decree that his army would be rewarded for their victory with three days of unrestricted rape and pillage. The 7,000 soldiers defending the walls of Constantinople were under no illusions as to their fate should the sultan’s army be successful at breeching the thick walls of the city. Many of the Orthodox priests feared or detested the pope more than they did the Ottomans and showed their contempt by denouncing Emperor Constantine and refusing to offer from their massive treasuries any financial support for the defense of Constantinople. The words of defiance were best summed up by the Grand Duke Notaras who decreed, “Better the turban of the Sultan than the tiara of the Pope in Constantinople.” Such is the similar state of affairs in the Republican Party and its historically unprecedented presidential sweepstakes. It seems like a majority of the party has decided that it has an unrelenting dislike of each of the top three Republican candidates.
  • KOKOMO – It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, or maybe even a stroke of genius. Any good military commander will tell you that most battles are won or lost before they are even fought. The good folks calling the shots for Marlin Stutzman’s U.S. Senate campaign must have thought that the stars were aligned and leprechauns were tossing gold coins to the faithful. It must have looked like one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that just couldn’t go wrong. Stutzman’s best hope of winning the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Dan Coats, before fellow candidate Eric Holcomb’s abrupt change of career path to the lieutenant governor’s office, was the hope that Holcomb and Congressman Todd Young would split up the same potential vote and allow him to slip into victory with something less than 50 percent of the vote. Holcomb’s move to the Statehouse immediately shattered that dream and left Stutzman with the unenviable job of beating an opponent with three times the cash on hand and an avalanche of organizational support flowing quickly from Holcomb to Young. With Plan A gone awry, the Stutzman team was forced to look for any life preserver floating around the quickly sinking ship. But then in a wink of an eye fate intervened and appeared to lay the golden egg at the foot of the Stutzman campaign. Those lovable rascals we call Democrats were up to their wacky grab bag of election year stunts and tricks.
  • KOKOMO - File this one under the category of picking fly excrement out of pepper. With all of the critical issues facing our nation and state, Democrats and Marlin Stutzman have resorted to contemptible gutter style politics in a feeble attempt to deny the voters of Indiana an opportunity to have a complete choice of candidates for United States Senate.  The issue involves whether or whether not Congressman Todd Young presented 500 registered voter petition signatures to the county clerks in the First District. We know that Young presented over 500 signatures and that the clerks ultimately certified 501. This was all done with about two weeks before the filing deadline. In my book, case closed. If Democrats would have exercised the same degree of concern for signature validity in 2008, they might have uncovered the hundreds of forged signatures in the Second District that ultimately led to the prosecution and conviction of Democrat Second District Chairman Butch Morgan for his attempt to manipulate Hillary Clinton onto the Indiana ballot. As my dad used to say, “Figures don’t lie but liars can figure.” Is this really how we want to decide who will replace Dan Coats as United States Senator?
  • KOKOMO – Indiana’s United States Senate primary to find a potential successor for retiring Sen. Dan Coats has triggered a stampede of contenders in both the 9th and 3rd Indiana CDs as incumbent Reps. Todd Young and Marlin Stutsman have decided to put their careers on the line by both seeking the Republican nomination for senator. In a future column I’ll take a look at the 3rd District contest, but I’ll start with my view on who will best represent the interests of the taxpayers and citizens of the 9th Indiana Congressional District. Republicans in the 9th District should be proud and excited about the candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring for the 2016 Republican nomination. The announced candidates are business owner Trey Hollingsworth, State Sen. Erin Houchin, radio host Jim Pfaff, State Sen. Brent Waltz and Attorney General Greg Zoeller.  Each appears to be qualified to represent the district and continue the outstanding work of Rep. Todd Young. However, only one candidate may be nominated and it is my opinion that one clearly rises to the top of the list: Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
  • KOKOMO - The most interesting element of a potential contested Presidential primary in Indiana is that, as Hoosiers, our long-awaited political slugfest may not feature just two candidates, but could bring a short-bus load of aspirants to every nook and cranny to Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood backyard. A surreal campaign and new Republican National Committee rules may shake up Indiana more than when the 1938 circus sideshow star Buxom Betty fell off of her stool during the Sunday matinee. It’s gonna be big, I tell you! Republican National Committee rules promulgated after the sad 2012 election are intended to provide greater competition and diminish the power of a campaign with big early money. States holding primaries on unapproved dates would be punished by the loss of National Convention delegates. Any state which holds a primary prior to March 15 is forced to allocate delegates on a proportional basis to the candidate’s votes received, and not based on winner-take-all. States holding their primaries later in the election cycle were presented with a Hobson’s choice requiring significant changes.
        
  • KOKOMO – I’ve been around the block a time or two and you can get a pretty good feel for a political candidate by taking a look at who shows up to their fundraising events. It was with this in mind that I attended Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s Presidential fundraiser at the Columbia Club. I won’t go into details as to who attended the fundraiser.  That would be bad form and get me sent to a corner.  I will say that the crowd of about 60 well-heeled donors were overwhelmingly individuals who were there giving their personal resources and not just serving as conduits for some special interest. These were fiscal conservatives who were legitimately concerned about the future of their country and not just the future bottom line of their corporate financial statement. That’s a good thing because Kasich told the audience during his remarks that donating to his campaign won’t get you a darn thing except good government.  What was most unusual about this political fundraiser was the near absence of the usual collection of business and legal special interests.  If you attend just a few fundraising events for candidates for local, state or national office, you tend to see the same faces time after time. In fact, you can usually make the name tags up in advance. The Kasich event brought new faces to the fold and that was impressive.
  • KOKOMO – As I listen intently to the various stakeholders in the Hoosier State’s deliberation on the issue of extending protections to its LGBT citizens, it has dawned on me that people opposing the extension of those rights to employment, housing and public accommodations don’t really see the issue as one of civil rights. They see the issue as one of religious freedom. Therein lies the ultimate problem. The issue is irreconcilable and non-negotiable to the true believers on both sides of the issue. Both sides have those who have drawn lines in the sand and the lines intersect nowhere. The no man’s land resting between the two lines in the sand is inhabited by a hodge-podge of well-meaning business people, civic leaders and politicos wanting to permanently put the issue of LGBT civil rights to bed. Also occupying no man’s land are the usual assortment of opportunists looking to exploit the turmoil over the issue for their own political and/or financial benefit.
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  • Lugar still undecided on presidential race
    "I'm just watching carefully. The world is a very dangerous place. We have a great military, the best in the world, but we have a great number of challenges, we have to keep NATO together... we also have to deal somehow with the Middle East, all at the same time... neither of the major candidates has really spelled out strategy that might meet the agenda I`ve just presented. This may be hard to do in a campaign, but it`s essential because we will not have success without leadership that understands historical aspects, all the strategic problems that are there. I'm hopeful in the final days of campaign there`ll be more evidence that the candidates are on top of these problems." - Former U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, saying he is still undecided in the U.S. presidential race, to Fox59.
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Lugar undecided in presidential race
Former U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar tells Fox59 he's undecided in the presidential race.

Hillary Clinton's "Mirrors" TV ad
The Clinton campaign highlights Donald Trump quotes on women.

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Trump taxes

Should Donald Trump release recent tax returns, like every major party nominee has done over the past 40 years?


 




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